Aubrey Plaza

Fantasia 2014

Beth (Aubrey Plaza) is dead, and her boyfriend Zach (Dane DeHaan) is all torn up about it. Sure they were having troubles and it looked like they might be heading for a split, but now that she’s gone — as in gone gone — he’s finding it difficult to think about anything else as he sinks into his pit of despair. Hoping for company with like-minded people he takes to spending time with Beth’s equally distraught parents, but just a few days later they shut him out of their lives. Distraught and driven for similarly bereft companionship he heads to their house only to glimpse something odd through a window. Beth is still alive. Kind of. She’s returned from the dead, and overcome with joyful confusion her parents are hiding her from the world. Beth’s memory isn’t all that great — she’s really stressed about a test she has tomorrow and has no idea that she’s dead — but Zach isn’t bout to turn his back on this second chance at a struggling relationship. Every couple hits some bumps in the road right? He soon discovers though that some love stories are better off dead.

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Greenfield and Plaza in About Alex

If About Alex seems a little too much like an unofficial remake of The Big Chill, that’s the point. The drama centers around a group of estranged friends from college who are reunited at a country house when one of their schoolmates attempts suicide. It even opens with a scene involving a bath, followed by a montage introducing all the characters in their present grown-up worlds. And, of course, the guy who slits his wrists here is also named Alex. The main difference, though, is that he doesn’t die. The others aren’t in town for his funeral, therefore, but rather just to be with him for his recovery. Where the movie is similar to its 1983 inspiration and where it’s different is significant to what it says about today’s generation of post-grad people on the cusp of being thirty-something. The ensemble gathered for this Alex (Jason Ritter) includes types who parallel the characters of 31 years ago, only in a kind of mashed up manner. Nate Parker plays a writer unhappily working as a journalist for an outlet of ill repute. But he’s hardly the Jeff Goldblum of the bunch. Aubrey Plaza works for a law firm, though not too comparable to Mary Kay Place’s role in The Big Chill. And she might want to open up a restaurant, which is like Goldblum’s character’s nightclub dreams. Max Minghella is sort of the rich guy equivalent to Tom Berenger, but he works at a hedge fund instead of in Hollywood. And he’s got […]

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About Alex

We’ve had a few trailers arrive in the past couple weeks for movies involving comedians gathering for funerals, but what about comedians coming together to celebrate the failure of an attempted suicide? It would be remiss not to say that About Alex is the Big Chill that we’ve been missing from our generation’s film lineups, even though it’s a bit obvious to point it out; the trailer itself wastes no time in doing so, and the pull quotes carefully picked out to showcase the film’s best qualities mention it as well. But when you’ve got a group of young, twenty something friends heading up to a cabin to embrace each other warmly and love a friend who just nearly took his life…when it walks like a duck… About Alex, from director and writer Jesse Zwick, is a familiar story that seems to try its best to reinvent itself for the modern age. Alex (Jason Ritter) suffers an emotional breakdown, which is the tried and true Bat Signal for his friends to finally get their acts together and pay attention to their long-suffering pal. They assemble for what’s supposed to be a gathering of fun and old memories, but when tensions combine with what are really old wounds, plus a whole lot of drugs and booze, it’s clear that this maybe wasn’t the best decision.

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About Alex

“You know what this is like? This is like one of those eighties movies.” Jesse Zwick’s About Alex makes no bones about its apparent pedigree – the first-time filmmaker clearly pulled from a host of eighties features, especially the similarly themed The Big Chill for his debut, but he’s added a nice little twist to his work: no one is actually dead here. Instead, the group of college friends that make up the cast of About Alex are brought back together because someone is almost dead. (This actually makes quite a difference.) Reunited due to the attempted suicide of their pal Alex (Jason Ritter), the erstwhile group assemble at his house in upstate New York to welcome home a recently discharged Alex, find out what went wrong, and learn some stuff about themselves (and each other!) as the film unfolds over an appropriate ninety-six minute runtime. But although the premise of the film is clearly a little contrived, but Zwick clearly knows that – amusingly enough, the dead protagonist in The Big Chill, the friend who really did succeed at his suicide, was also named Alex, and he also slit his wrists in a tub – but About Alex is so charming on its own merits that Zwick’s decision to riff on earlier features emerges as a wily and wise one.

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aubrey plaza in jeannie tate show

This is another edition of Short Starts, where we present a weekly short film(s) from the start of a filmmaker or actor’s career. While the new comedy The To Do List just opened in near-wide release, it’s not playing everywhere. For those of you who can’t go see it yet, I offer you a little alternative in the form of 2007′s The Jeannie Tate Show. It’s not the official short start for either Aubrey Plaza (who had already appeared in Killswitch and In Love) or writer-director Maggie Carey (who’d helmed the short PBS doc Sun River Homestead and a few short comedies, including Jenny Clone with her then-soon-to-be husband Bill Hader). It’s not even technically a short so much as a web series made up of very short episodes. Still, it’s fun to see the beginnings of a relationship that would eventually lead to now-famous Plaza starring in Carey’s narrative feature debut. On the show, Plaza plays the teen daughter of title soccer-mom-turned-talk-show-host Jeannie Tate (played by co-creator Liz Cackowski, who is also in The To Do List). And yes, she’s a brooding, cynical, ungrateful young woman. But her voice sounds a lot different than it does now. In the first episode, Jeannie Tate, who does her talk show out of her minivan, welcomes her first guest, Bill Hader, as himself (Hader is also in The To Do List, by the way). Rounding out the cast as Plaza’s father is Brian Huskey (who, you guessed it, is also in The To Do List).

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The To Do List

Volunteering to review a movie starring indie darling Aubrey Plaza, one that is at its core a movie about navigating the world of sex, is sort of a no-brainer. It makes a great date movie, allowing me to lure a lady-person into a potentially vulgar, laughter-filled evening. It also counts as a business expense. Take that Uncle Sam, I will take my handjob humor with a side of a deduction. So we set off, my lovely companion and I, expecting the promise of nostalgia in the trailers for The To Do List. What we got was that and a whole lot more — more of the weirdness, the awkward Aubrey Plaza fearlessness, more nostalgia, some emboldened female sensuality, a great soundtrack and plenty of that potent vulgarity. But most of all, it was great laugh. A harkening back to summer sex comedies, with a bit of a gender twist. Something that you might see come right out of the self-proclaimed progressive 90s.

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trailer to do list

I know what you’re thinking. “Sexy women are one thing, but funny women? Next you’ll be telling me there are women who are both sexy and funny!” Well I’m here to tell you it’s true. History is filled with examples, but for the sake of argument let’s go ahead and label this new redband trailer for the upcoming The To Do List as exhibit A. It’s the feature debut of writer/director Maggie Carey who, as the name suggests, is in fact a woman. The film stars Aubrey Plaza in only her second lead role as a recent high school grad named Brandy who allows peer pressure to lead her down a very dirty road indeed. Convinced by her older sister (Rachel Bilson) that college is just wall to wall penises Brandy decides to spend her summer vacation doing all the naughty things she’s never done (and in some cases never even heard of) before. Set in 1993, the film looks to be filled with reminders of a very special time in most of our lives. Interpret “special” how ever you’d like. Take a stroll down memory lane (or not) with the new trailer for The To Do List.

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She Said She Said

Why Watch? Equally sharp and absurd, this short film from Stuart Blumberg features Marisa Tomei and Elodie Bouchez as a couple who are close to ending their marriage, David Wain as a high-fiving mediator, and a few ridiculous flashbacks. Each piece of their shared history that they fight over forces them to remember the full spectrum of their relationship while creating some very funny scenarios. Especially if you’re into Aubrey Plaza making “fox babies.” The dialogue is sly, and it’s often difficult to figure out whether a line is meant as an insult or flirtation, and the talent here delivers.  It’s also sleek with smart visuals and seductive — both while sharing the calm power of generosity and when sliding a loose dress slowly up the back of its star’s legs. This comedy is a long, slow pour of whiskey with a smooth finish. What Will It Cost? About 7 minutes. Skip Work. Watch More Short Films.

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Aubrey Plaza

Yes, we’re going with “zom-com” and we’re sticking to it. While promoting the endlessly charming Safety Not Guaranteed overseas (seriously, I’ve watched it four times now, and it genuinely gets better, funnier, and sweeter with every watch), everyone’s favorite side-eye-throwing leading lady Aubrey Plaza revealed a new project – ad it sounds pretty perfect for Ms. Plaza and her comedic sensibilities. The Guardian reports (via Cinema Blend) that the actress is prepping set to star in Life After Beth,a “really fucked-up” zombie comedy penned by her own boyfriend Jeff Baena (who previously co-wrote I Heart Huckabees, so that should give you some insight into his taste). Baena will also direct the film, which will also star no less than John C. Reilly. And that’s just about all we know about the project as of now, though we can’t imagine what other details you’d need beyond its apparent tone and its solid stars. Plaza is currently filming A Many Splintered Thing and will next be seen in The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman and The To Do List.

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A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan the III

A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III is Roman Coppola‘s first film in over ten years. His directorial debut, CQ, was received with a mixed response. It didn’t garner much love, but it’s a really fun movie which goes beyond the average “struggling director” stories. Since then, Coppola’s been keeping busy with his music video and commercial and his frequent collaborations with Wes Anderson. Now he’s finally returned to the director’s chair, with a movie which is exactly what we’d expect from the guy who co-wrote Moonrise Kingdom and The Darjeeling Limited. Apple launched the trailer today. Take a look:

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Director George Clooney

What is Casting Couch? Proof that not everyone’s tracking Hurricane Sandy’s path on Twitter. Some are still out there casting movies. The big casting news over the weekend was all of the big names that were announced for George Clooney’s next project as a director, The Monuments Men. Deadline had the scoop that this period drama about a group of art historians and museum curators trying to recover important and historical works from the clutches of the Nazis is going to star names like Bill Murray, Daniel Craig, Cate Blanchett, Jean Dujardin, John Goodman, Hugh Bonneville, and Bob Balaban. As far as I know none of these people can even speak German, but you’ve still got to look at that list and be impressed. You could cast this crew as an office full of telemarketers and everyone would still watch the movie, making them heroes during the dying days of the Nazi regime is just icing on the cake.

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10 Years Review

The high school reunion film genre has been so flooded with entries that it’s reached the point of being nothing short of played out, so any new entry needs to justify its existence by offering some kind of unique spin on the usual, or at least by featuring characters that transcend the normal archetypes. Writer-director Jamie Linden fails on both counts in his 10 Years and seems to think that the film’s all-star cast compensates for those deficiencies. It doesn’t. No matter how much you love Channing Tatum, Aubrey Plaza, Anthony Mackie, Chris Pratt, Ari Graynor, or any of the other notables who turn up here, there’s no getting around the simple, basic fact that Linden’s movie doesn’t tell a story. It merely brings to life the world’s least interesting reunion, featuring a swath of staggering dullards played by talented people.

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The To Do List Red Band Trailer

A movie about Aubrey Plaza giving out hand jobs, under any other name, would be just as sweet. So it’s with great anticipation that we’ve been awaiting Funny or Die vet Maggie Carey’s debut directorial effort The To Do List. The good news is, today that wait got a little bit easier, because not only has CBS Films released a red band trailer for the film, but they’ve also revealed that it will be this Valentine’s Day (February 14) when we finally get to take in this story of a virginal nerd who tries to systematically experience all the sex acts she missed out on in high school before entering college. So, based on this first teaser, does it look like The To Do List will live up to the lofty expectations that its premise creates? Maybe. Honestly, it looks a little low rent, like we’re looking at a trailer for a series of web short rather than a feature film, and while there are some amusing moments in this 90 seconds of clips, there aren’t really any of the big belly laughs that one would expect from a raunchy comedy.

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10 Years Trailer

The high school reunion comedy is a sub-genre that’s ripe with drama and conflict. You’ve got the lost loves, the old rivalries, the people who have improved their stations in life butting up against those who have been taken down a peg, the people who have refused to grow up interacting with those that have gotten completely lame, and probably a handful of other familiar tropes that always seem to pop up. But that means that the high school reunion comedy is also a sub-genre that’s ripe with cliché, because, let’s face it, every single movie that falls into it always covers these exact same things. What’s the secret of making a good one then, if there isn’t much room for being unique? Probably making sure that the familiar material is at least infused with wit, and getting a talented cast to deliver it. Just from the trailer for 10 Years, it’s clear that this movie has the latter part of that equation taken care of. Just look at the names in this cast: Channing Tatum, Rosario Dawson, Chris Pratt, Aubrey Plaza, Oscar Isaac, Justin Long, Ron Livingston, Kate Mara, Ari Graynor, etc… Whether this movie feels a little familiar or not, with a cast like that there’s guaranteed to be something in there worth watching.

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Editor’s note: With Safety Not Guaranteed beginning its limited release roll-out today, we thought to share our SXSW review again. This review was originally posted on March 14, 2012, and it’s much safer to read than anything you might find on Craigs List. The want ad is simple. A partner is needed to travel backward in time. It will be dangerous, it will be an adventure, and their safety will not be guaranteed. A magazine writer convinces his editor that there’s a goofy human interest story in the ad and gathers together two interns for a trip north to Seattle in the hopes of meeting the ad’s owner. What they discover is that not all time travel involves machines, portals or HG Wells chasing Jack the Ripper through modern day San Francisco. Sometimes all it needs are heads and hearts refusing to let go of the past. Director Colin Trevorrow‘s feature debut is just as likely to make you laugh out loud as it is to make you tear up in hopeful anticipation. The concept of time travel is the catalyst for a story that examines the idea of returning to an earlier time in our lives when things were better and our futures were still bright. Or at least, that’s how we remember things.

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We haven’t reported much yet on The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman, which is a shame, because it’s a promising sounding project. So, seeing as there’s a new bit of casting news regarding the film, let’s use that as an excuse to cover all the basics, shall we? The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman started off as a Black List script by a screenwriter named Matt Drake (Project X) that was eventually picked up by Voltage Pictures and given to Fredrik Bond to direct. A studio synopsis for the film explains it by saying, “Charlie Countryman was just a normal guy…until he fell in love with the one girl who will probably get him killed. When Charlie meets the absolutely irresistible Gabi she’s already been claimed by Nigel, an insanely violent crime boss with a gang of thugs at his disposal. Armed with little more than his wit and naïve charm, Charlie endures one bruising beat down after another to woo Gabi and keep her out of harm’s way. Finally his exploits of blind valor create such a mess that he’s left with only one way out; to save the girl of his dreams, must Charlie Countryman die?” These aren’t the truly exciting aspects of the film, however. The real appeal of this project is the cast that Bond has assembled. He’s got Shia LaBeouf in the title role, Evan Rachel Wood playing Gabi, Mads Mikklesen on board as the Nigel character, and names like Rupert Grint and Melissa Leo […]

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s just as movie-obsessed as you are, which is why it continues to give you all this fun and fancy content on a nightly basis. Every weeknight at 10p Central, 11p Eastern and 6a in Istanbul (which, depending on the season, is still during a dark time of day). We begin tonight with the most adorable promotional photo for a hardline sci-fi movie ever. Prometheus stars Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron and Noomi Rapace aren’t doing service to the seriousness of Ridley Scott’s upcoming epic, but they sure are having fun.

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Here’s how it is (and how I suspect it’s going to be) – we love Colin Treverrow‘s Safety Not Guaranteed ’round these parts, and we think you might love it, too. The film debuted at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, and while I was not as effusive in my praise for it as Rob Hunter was when it played at SXSW last month, I have not been able to stop thinking about it, and do agree with Rob’s assessment that it’s warm, witty, and wonderful. Hell, we even threw this time travel love story into our Best Movies of SXSW 2012 list, and Hunter and I gabbed about it on Reject Radio. See? Love. Based on a true story (read: based on a want ad placed in a paper), the film follows Jake Johnson‘s cocky journalist who drags two interns (Aubrey Plaza and Karan Soni) into the search for a man who has placed an ad looking for someone to travel through time with him. Again. Because he’s done it before – though he can’t guarantee, you know, safety. What they find is Mark Duplass, a man who already more than a little off, with his time travel beliefs not doing him too many favors. But more than just the discovery of Duplass’s Kenneth, the group discovers, wait for it, much more about themselves. No, really. At the heart of that is an unexpected and consistently charming romance between Plaza and Duplass that should melt even the darkest of hearts. […]

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It is hard enough to be a single father, but when you are trying to juggle those responsibilities along with pursuing your dream of being an actor, things are made all the more complicated. The End of Love opens with Mark (Mark Webber) and his son, Isaac (played by Webber’s real-life son), waking up. The camera focuses in on Isaac and sets up the focus of the film on the little boy in the first few frames. As Mark and Isaac start their day, the absence of a mother (or a partner) in Mark’s life becomes clear, with Mark having to take Isaac with him on a big audition. While the casting director seems understanding about Isaac’s presence in the room, the actress Mark is reading against, Amanda Seyfried (playing herself), seems less than pleased and it quickly becomes clear that Mark’s dreams of becoming an actor may be over. Losing roles no longer just means Mark may not get a good part, it means he is losing money to support himself and Isaac. Although Mark lives with two roommates (who seem more than understanding about living with a two-year-old), he is not pulling his weight in rent, which sends Mark asking one of his friends (yet another “cameo” by Jason Ritter) for help.

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A man places an ad in a local paper looking for a partner to go on a journey with him – but this particular man is not looking to make a love connection, he is in need of a companion to travel through time with him. He’s done it once before, but you’ll have to bring to your own weapons because, as he tells it, “safety not guaranteed.” From this seed of an idea, director Colin Trevorrow and screenwriter Derek Connolly have crafted Safety Not Guaranteed, a low-fi romance that benefits both from charismatic performances and the intriguing background that the time travel element provides. The film is loosely based on a true story – an ad did appear in a Seattle paper, exactly as it appears in the film, but Connolly and Trevorrow have taken their film in a different direction – stuff mentioned in the ad (payment, that it’s been done before) never comes up after its first read, and no one ever says anything else about it. Instead, the film focuses on a trio of intrepid reporters (really just one mild douchebags and two interns who don’t have a choice in the matter) who decide to craft a piece about the man who has placed the ad. A fluff piece, something silly. Of course, they find much more than they bargained for once their investigation commence.

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